Author(s): Bill Clegg
This book of dark secrets opens with a blaze. On the morning of her daughter's wedding, June Reid's house goes up in flames, destroying her entire family - her present, her past and her future. Fleeing from the carnage, stricken and alone, June finds herself in a motel room by the ocean, hundreds of miles from her Connecticut home, held captive by memories and the mistakes she has made with her only child, Lolly, and her partner, Luke. In the turbulence of grief and gossip left in June's wake we slowly make sense of the unimaginable. The novel is a gathering of voices, and each testimony has a new revelation about what led to the catastrophe - Luke's alienated mother Lydia, the watchful motel owners, their cleaner Cissy, the teenage pothead who lives nearby - everyone touched by the tragedy finds themselves caught in the undertow, as their secret histories finally come to light. Lit by the clarity of understanding that true sadness brings, Did You Ever Have a Family is an elegant, unforgettable story that reveals humanity at its worst and best, through loss and love, fracture and forgiveness. At the book's heart is the idea of family - the ones we are born with and the ones we create - and the desire, in the face of everything, to go on living.
We all have families. What do you do when your family has just been destroyed?
Long-listed for Man Booker Prize for Fiction 2015.
"Full of small-town secrets and whispers, Bill Clegg has woven a richly textured tale of loss and healing. This is a deeply optimistic book about the power of human sympathy to pull us from the wreckage of our fate." -- Anne Enright, winner of the Man Booker Prize "The force, range, and scope of Bill Clegg's Did You Ever Have a Family grab you with its opening line, and don't let go until its final one. I can't recall another novel that so effortlessly weds a nuanced, lyrical voice to an unflinching vision of just how badly things can go for people. I read it deep into the night, all the way through, telling myself it was getting late, I could finish the book in the morning. I finished it that night, however, slept a few hours, and then, in the morning, started reading it again." -- Michael Cunningham, author of The Hours "Like the question it poses, Did You Ever Have a Family is brutally direct yet it's got an enormous symbolic power. You hold in your hands a great book of kindness - every restrained, exquisite sentence comes loaded for bear. It's been a lot of years since a novel has so moved me. Number Bill Clegg among that endangered species: major American writer." -- Darin Strauss, author of Chang and Eng and Half a Life "This devastating novel is almost the definition of a literary pageturner and somehow it escapes being too bleak: a dark tale of family secrets shot through with glimmers of light and hope." Bookseller "This devastating novel is almost the definition of a literary pageturner and somehow it escapes being too bleak: a dark tale of family secrets shot through with glimmers of light and hope." Bookseller
Bill Clegg is a literary agent in New York and the author of the bestselling memoirs Portrait of an Addict as a Young Man and Ninety Days. He has written for the New York Times, Esquire, New York magazine, the Guardian and Harper's Bazaar.